Midway Planners’ Election Woes and Serious Troubles for Rooftop Solar

by on February 22, 2022 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

The Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group’s discussion about its own yearly elections was the most serious topic by far during the February monthly meeting. A group that should consist of 12 people will have 9 or 10 seats up for election. The problem is – and it is chronic – trying to find enough people to volunteer just to fill all 12 seats.


After attending these meetings for several years, this writer can attest to the challenge the group has always faced sitting 12 people. The board previously was to be made up of 15 people, they reduced it to 12 because of the difficulty getting volunteers. There always seem to be a few empty seats.

This year, COVID complicated things because they did not have an election last year and sort of agreed to just postpone until 2022. It created problems for all planning boards. After a year of waiting for guidelines from the city on how to hold the 2021 elections, the city finally provided its wisdom. It just shrugged its shoulders and told them all to handle it however they wanted to.  That took a whole year.

Midway also suffers from a higher turnover rate, at least when compared to the PCPB or the OBPB, for reasons unique to the area. One member just resigned because he changed jobs. He had been on the board as a representative of the Modern Times Brewery on Hancock Street, which is within the group’s boundary.  Certainly, the brewery can see if another of their employees wants to step in and fill that seat.

There was a lengthy discussion about how to handle the elections with so many empty seats and the lingering effects of the pandemic on some activities. But, Vice Chair Dike Anyiwo came in with a suggestion that seemed a relief to everyone.

Anyiwo said it might be good idea to postpone any election effort for a few months until after the city’s planned changes to planning boards are codified. According to Anyiwo, who attends the Community Planners Committee meetings for the Midway group, the changes will be finalized in a matter of months. This seemed to make sense but for one thing.

Some of the changes that have been bantered about are more than significant. One item that came up was the proposal to no longer have the city indemnify planning groups. This is really a deal breaker for many people. However, if this change is made in a couple of months, it certainly could not be put into place this year. If the city did that, there would be wholesale resignations from planning boards all over the city.

If indemnification is dropped, it will have to start at next year’s March elections so that everyone running for a seat on a planning board will know going in what the rules are. There is a good chance that the wholesale resignations of sitting planning board members will take place then because the new rules will not be what they ran on. It will be a major challenge to find enough people to fill all those seats.

Under these odd circumstances, Midway’s decision, while seeming sensible, really just put off the difficulty for a few months. In the meantime, they have some vacant seats they would like to fill by appointment, so they are seeking volunteers. The long-time group chair, Cathy Kenton, is termed out in March having served three consecutive terms. The by-laws allow a termed-out member to run for a seat after waiting for one year.

But, the rules also would allow Kenton to take a seat again if no one else steps forward, which will probably happen. Kenton said she will not be the chair again. That position no doubt will go to Anyiwo, who has been eagerly waiting in the wings. This will mark a big change for Midway from an older property owner with a long history in the area to a young, ambitious person who has, also eagerly, aligned himself with the city establishment and its development goals.

Midway Development Proposal

One of the proposers on the Midway redevelopment project, HomeTownSD, gave a detailed presentation of their proposal. This same group made this presentation to the OBPB first in January, which was covered in detail here in The Rag.

Community Choice Energy

Sonja Robinson, representing the Protect Our Communities Foundation, gave a presentation on Community Choice Energy. This has been in the news for the past several years as an alternative to using San Diego Gas & Electric. Energy rates are higher in San Diego than any other place in the country and community choice is touted as a way to lower those costs.

Apparently, a large part of San Diego’s energy costs results from having to transmit the energy from a far distance. Community choice would incorporate other local energy sources with rooftop solar being a big part of that. SDG&E does not like the solar business. It is proposing a monthly rate hike to the fee residents, who get most of their energy from rooftop solar panels, already pay.

Residents with rooftop solar pay a small fee to SDG&E for use of the electrical system. The proposed fee increase is so drastic that, according to Robinson, it would kill the rooftop solar industry. The Protect Our Communities Foundation is having a forum Tuesday, February 22, 2022Time: 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Zoom.

To register for the Zoom meeting, go here .

According to Robinson, the discussion topics will include:

  • Local solar energy 101: The 3E’s (energy, equity, and economics)
  • SDG&E, highest rates in the country – learn how the NEM decision impacts us?
  • San Diego Community Power – a focus on local solar with local benefits
  • Public power in San Diego (San Diegans option to reduce our rates)
  • San Vicente pumped energy storage – does it have a role to play?

To see more on this in advance, go here.

The point is to rally people to influence the Public Utilities Commission enough to deny the rate hike request.

Robinson also mentioned a public power feasibility study the city is conducting. A good explanation of it can be found here

Airport Update

Ashley Martinez, the San Diego Airport’s representative, gave a brief update on what is happening with Terminal 1. The most important news for travelers had to do with parking. Work beginning to take place now will remove about 500 parking spaces from Terminal 1 and, by July 1, the lot will be completely closed “until 2024 to 2025.”

Martinez described a new, free shuttle the airport is providing that starts at the Old Town Transit Center. It will run from 4:45 a.m. to 12:45 a.m. and runs every 20 minutes. The shuttle will drop people in front of both terminals. To find out more, go here.

Martinez explained that the airport is controlled by federal guidelines and the TSA has decided that masks will be required at the airport for several more months.

There is a new Terminal 1 Website here  . People can visit the website for updates on the project’s progress and other information.

“Harm Reduction” (translation: “homeless shelter”) Center at the Old Pier One site

According to Casey Snell, representing the Housing Commission, the new shelter is about 86% full but that fluctuates as people come and go. Cathy Kenton asked Snell how many of the people in the shelter came from the Midway area. Snell said she would check and they should have that information.

This was important to the Midway group. They learned about the shelter last year – without being consulted – and expressed a concern that more homeless would be brought to Midway adding to what was already here. They were assured that the outreach would start with the local population.

That outreach, we now know, was a dismal failure as only seven people out of about 180 on the street accepted shelter, six of them supposedly going into the new facility with forty plus beds. This writer attempted to get the same information that Kenton asked for weeks ago.  The response was that the facility did not track where the people came from to the shelter.  That was very hard to believe, but it was easy to understand why they did not want to reveal this information.

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